Dothan looks into EPA grant to clean up contaminated property next to garden

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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) -- You might have noticed some abandoned lots around Dothan. We've found out that one of those could be getting a facelift. It's right next to Aunt Katie's Garden. With one grant approval, the property could turn from brown to green.

At the garden, the Executive Director Michael Jackson dreams of expanding.

"This community that could use a little love and attention."

Jackson has completed phase one -- and his next goal...

"Phase two, is the project where we have the contaminated soil, which is behind the fence behind you. And this is the area that we will focus."

On this property, there will be a high tunnel house that looks like this, but larger. It will grow leafy greens all year round.

"This will allow us to not only meet the demand of our residential customers, but we may be able to supply those products to some restaurants in the area."

The Dothan City Commission approved for Mayor Mark Saliba to apply for a cleanup grant from the US Environmental Protection Agency.

"It was just a great opportunity for us to do an environmental assessment," said Bob Wilkerson, Planner at Dothan Planning and Development Department.

The property was home to an Alabama Power Company substation and has since been inactive for many years.

"We discovered a minimal condition that they can correct that we've already discussed with both EPA IN Atlanta and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management," said Wilkerson.

350 to 700 kids go through the garden a year. Jackson says the grant allows the garden to blossom helping kids and community.

"It’s a win,win situation, the community wins because this fence can go away, and we're not trying to protect the public from something that could hurt them," said Jackson.

Wilkerson tells me that he feels confident the city will be awarded this grant. They went through a coaching session with the EPA for technical points on how to improve the application.